SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his annual National Day message on Friday gave assurance to those approaching retirement that they will be taken care of, and to the young that they will all be given a chance to achieve their potential.
On retirement adequacy, PM Lee said that the Central Provident Fund scheme has worked well for many Singaporeans in helping them save for old age, but acknowledged that it can be improved and more details of changes will be shared at the National Day Rally next Sunday.
Owning an HDB flat has also been a key way for people to fund their retirement, by building up a valuable nest egg, he said, adding that the Government is studying how to make it easier for retirees to cash out of their flats in a prudent and sustainable way.
But PM Lee did not just focus on the elderly in his message, he also sought to assure the young that they will have opportunities to chase their dreams.
"Stronger safety nets are not just to give you peace of mind, but also to build the confidence to hope and dare. Our system will help you shoot for the stars. Everyone will have full opportunities to fulfil your potential, regardless of your family background and circumstances," he said.
With education an important part of that, PM Lee said that is why the ASPIRE Committee has been set up to help students from ITE and Polytechnic move up in life.
"You are talented, passionate and confident. You deserve to chase your dreams and be the best that you can be," he said.
He noted also that the academic route is not the only way up, as the Government will help Singaporeans continue to learn new skills and get higher qualifications while they work.
But education and training is not all there is to life, he said.
"It is also a matter of social values. As Singaporeans, we must judge a person not just by his educational qualifications, but also by his skills, contributions and character. This is how we keep Singapore a land of hope and opportunity for all," he said.
Mr Lee also called on Singaporeans to continue making Singapore a better home together.
New amenities are being built such as the Sports hub, and the Government is using tecnhology to turn Singapore into a Smart Nation. But beyond physical infrastructure, bonds with one another and the spirit of mutual support must be strengthened, he said.
"We must deepen our shared identity, and the values we hold dear. Singapore will only succeed if we stand together as one united people."
The full year forecast for the economy has been narrowed from 2 to 4 per cent to 2.5 to 3.5 per cent growth, after growth came in at 3.5 per cent in the first half of the year. Official second quarter GDP figures are out next week.
"We must keep up this growth over the next decade to help you improve your lives," PM Lee said.